Author: Valerie Taylor
Overview from Goodreads:
Kassie O’Callaghan’s meticulous plans to divorce her emotionally abusive husband, Mike, and move in with Chris, a younger man she met five years ago on a solo vacation in Venice, are disrupted when she finds out Mike has chronic kidney disease—something he’s concealed from her for years. Once again, she postpones her path to freedom—at least, until she pokes around his pajama drawer and discovers his illness is the least of his deceits.
But Kassie is no angel, either. As she struggles to justify her own indiscretions, the secret lives she and Mike have led collide head-on, revealing a tangled web of sex, lies, and DNA. Still, mindful of her vows, Kassie commits to helping her husband find an organ donor. In the process, she uncovers a life-changing secret. Problem is, if she reveals it, her own immorality will be exposed, which means she has an impossible decision to make: Whose life will she save—her husband’s or her own?
An excellent debut novel! Kassie O’Callaghan is a marketing executive who works in a larger firm. Her husband, Mike, is also in marketing at his own smaller company. They met in college, him a professor and she was his student and they’ve been married over twenty years. Marriage was difficult once the honeymoon period was over and Kassie came to terms with Mike’s controlling and emotionally abusive ways. She’s been conditioned to cater to Mike’s every whim and to his every need. He constantly made digs at Kassie and has her do everything for him. However, Kassie has wanted to divorce Mike a little over four years. As the novel said she spent the first half of her marriage trying to save her marriage and the other half trying to escape it. Every time Kassie thought about divorcing previously, something else would come up that would prevent her from following through. It’s very relatable to those in a marriage that they want to escape, but something that others might not understand holds them back.
During a solo trip to Venice, as Mike didn’t want to go, she meets Chris who is Mike’s current opposite. Where Mike doesn’t seem to care about Kassie, Chris makes sure Kassie’s needs are acknowledged. She soon starts a long distance affair with Chris as he lives in San Francisco and she lives in Boston.
At the beginning of our story, Kassie has finally decided to move forward with divorcing Mike and moving in with Chris as he relocates to Boston. The best laid plans though do not always come to fruition as the night Kassie is about to tell him about the divorce, Mike ends up in the ER with a medical condition. The title of the story What’s Not Said says it all about what comes next as secrets are revealed. There are twists and turns throughout the story that helped drive the story. One twist was very easy to guess early on, but it might not be as obvious to every reader. It does start out slower as the first two thirds of the novel take place in less than two weeks with many flashbacks to help the reader understand the past. These are necessary though in order to show the different sides of our three main characters are some chapters are told through Chris and Mike’s perspectives.
The overall theme shows the need for open communication in any relationship, whether it be family, friends, or romantic. Without this, there are lies and secrets that can be formed and trust that can be broken. It’s a very relatable story and makes you think about which path Kassie should take. Should she be with Chris and go along the path she planned or should she keep her marriage vow to stay with Mike in for better or worse and sickness and health?
I sympathized with Kassie about her dilemma, but it was difficult to fully comprehend that she seemed to only come up with two main choices to either choose Mike or Chris. She doesn’t fully put the option of choosing neither and trying to live on her own on the table, which is not a decision that everyone wants to even consider. Although Kassie wasn’t my favorite character (I didn’t fully like any of the characters), but I loved the way that you, as a reader, can still sympathize with her and just want everything to work out for her.
Again, I will repeat that this is a fantastic debut novel! It truly was hard to believe that this wasn’t one of many that the author has written. I believe there is a sequel in the works and I will definitely add it to my reading list!
**Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. **